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Divrei Torah: The King and We

Being the leader is not manifested by simply wearing a crown or living in the palace.
The Parsha in Chesed – Miketz

Pirkei D’rebbi Eliezer (16:16) states that חתן דומה למלך” “- a bridegroom is compared to a king. By association, we can say that a bride is compared to a queen.

The explanation is that as the groom and bride wear expensive clothing, are escorted and celebrated upon, they in fact resemble “royalty”. While all of that makes sense there must be something deeper than the externals of the new couple.

The statement of Pirkei D’rebbi Eliezer should have meaning that applies beyond the superficial.

I believe that the deeper lesson comes from the dreams in Parshat Mikeitz.

Paroh’s dreams include 7 healthy and 7 scrawny cow, 7 healthy stalks followed by 7 withered ones. These dreams greatly disturb not only his sleep but his peace of mind.

Paroh turns to his close advisors for an explanation. They all give interpretations, but none are satisfactory to Paroh. All the narratives involve something personal to or about Paroh. He knew that these could not be the true messages of his dreams.

As the king of Egypt, Paroh understood that everything about him must relate to his people. A true leader is constantly connected to their nation. Yes, they might live in a palace, eat the finest foods and be served all hours of the day. These are the “trappings” of royalty.

The needs of the people are the concern of its monarch. Their welfare and sustenance should be constantly on his or her mind.

Paroh knew that such troubling dreams had to in some way involve the entire nation of Egypt. The advisors gave very plausible explanations that would fit for a “regular” person, not for a king like Paroh.

It was Yosef’s take on the dreams that impressed Paroh. Those interpretations affected everyone, not just Paroh personally. A true leader reflects on and is a reflection of their people. A monarch considers their subjects at all times.

One of the most honored pilots in Israeli history was Michel Bacos. Captain Bacos never flew in the IAF, was not an Israeli citizen or even Jewish for that matter. He was the commander of Air France Flight 139 that was hijacked and the subject of the incredible rescue in Entebbe.

After landing in Uganda, the terrorists freed the 148 non-Jewish passengers, and offered to release Bacos and his crew. Captain Bacos told the terrorists that ALL of the passengers were his responsibility and that he wouldn’t leave until their safety was guaranteed. Captain Bacos remained with the Jewish passengers and was ultimately rescued. His bravery, courage and leadership were globally recognized.

Michel Bacos realized that being called “Captain” goes far above just flying the plane.

Perhaps this is the deeper reason that a groom and bride are compared to a king and queen. As a couple, they are now responsible not only for their own needs but those of their new spouse. A “kingdom” has been created through this union.

“I” has become “we”.

So yes, just as a king and queen have the ornaments of their position, so too do the bride and groom. Much more important than the fancy clothing, entourage and celebrating, however, is the newfound maturity in having to look out for another.

This idea applies far beyond the celebration of the newly married.

Avraham was blessed that וְהִפְרֵתִי אֹתְךָ בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד וּנְתַתִּיךָ לְגוֹיִם וּמְלָכִים מִמְּךָ יֵצֵאוּ: I will make you very fruitful and kings will come forth from you.

The Jewish people are called a ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש. A kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

It would seem that in some ways every member of the Jewish people are compared to royalty, not only a bride and groom.

Being the leader is not manifested by simply wearing a crown or living in the palace.

Our identification as royalty is the innate characteristic of concern for others. Consideration of the needs and feelings of others turn the selfishness of “I” into a world of “we”.

כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה – All of Yisrael are guarantors for one another. Each of us can become a king or queen by focusing beyond ourselves and tuning in to the wellbeing of others.

Not everyone has the power, wealth and influence of Paroh. Enacting decrees may be beyond our capabilities. We do have the potential, however, to make a difference in many ways, for our families, friends and the community around us.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach!

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